Men's trousers: flat front, high waist. Help?
November 13, 2013 12:18 PM   Subscribe

I wear a suit or dress trousers most days to the office, and am looking to replace some of my wardrobe. I've gone to a few mens' clothing stores, but have struck out looking for high-waisted, fitted but not tight, flat front men's trousers. (Details/snowflake/etc inside)

I wear a suit or dress trousers most days to the office, and am looking to replace some of my wardrobe. I've gone to a few mens' clothing stores, but have struck out looking for high-waisted, not tight, flat front men's trousers for a suit.

The most comfortable and flattering pair of pants I own is actually an old pair of US Navy SDB trousers, except
a) I can't find a matching suit jacket that doesn't involve stripping and replacing the buttons on an double-breasted, six button coat (a look that I don't think works on an under-30 year old in my office environment, even if the coat wasn't obviously an old uniform item which would draw instant recognition in my industry), and
b) I'm looking for something that's made of wool (my strong preference would be for a heavier weight wool, but online shops don't usually specify, and it's been difficult to find heavy in Texas).

So far, I've looked in local men's clothing stores and found a few suits, however trousers with flat fronts (no pleats) seem to be universally very low-cut (that is, they fit as though they are supposed to be worn low on the hips, and the vertical space between the crotch and top of the pants is relatively short). Fun addition - I'm not particularly skinny, (31-36 inch waist, 32 inch legs, long torso) but usually to find suits that fit my shoulders, I end up taking the pants in about 3-5 inches, and except for athletic/sport/etc fit suits (which, maybe I've just picked the wrong ones, don't seem to be nearly as well constructed), the coats are pretty tent-like/boxy.

I've looked at going to a tailor and my next step may be to just ask a gentleman to make them for me, but I wanted to check with the hive mind as the price delta looks pretty significant. (I don't mind paying $500-700+ for a suit, but I also haven't been impressed with the quality:price ratio of local men's stores)

Any suggestions?
posted by Seeba to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't find a matching suit jacket

You cannot "make a suit" from separate articles of clothing. Suits are a package deal. You could wear a blazer or sports coat with those pants, though.

If you are comfortable with paying $500-700 for a suit, you are getting into the entry price ranges of custom tailored suits. I would recommend that. I, too, wear suits/dress trousers to the office but I don't think I've bought a suit off the rack since college. Your preferences are particular enough that I think custom tailoring would be the best use of your time and money.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:24 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I agree with Tanizaki. The combination you're looking for (flat front, high(er) rise) is really uncommon given contemporary fashion trends. If your preference is that specific, I would suggest finding a tailor who can take your specifications (preferably in person) and outsource the work at a reasonable price (generally about $1000).

I would avoid doing this entirely online unless you find an online tailoring shop that specializes in the specific style you're looking for.
posted by deanc at 12:35 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

As deanc mentions, in menswear, the term for the distance between the crotch and the waist is called the "rise". Using that term instead of "high-waisted" may get you better results online and when talking to tailors.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:44 PM on November 13, 2013

Lands End has some things that may work for you, and you might be able to get a separate jacket to go with.
posted by sageleaf at 1:14 PM on November 13, 2013

Yeah, low-rise is super in right now, even among formalwear. Sigh. Try going someplace more conservative, like a Brooks' Brothers, who tend to sell the same thing year in and year out despite the styles (or at least they always have a section of the "same old, same old").

Since this seems to be a dress protocol around your office, have you tried asking the other guys at work for recommendations or a favorite tailor?
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 1:19 PM on November 13, 2013

Thrift Stores and Ebay are also decent places to look for older clothes, which are more likely to have a higher rise. On Ebay, some sellers (the good ones) will give you a measurement of the rise, so you can measure the rise of the pants you like and then look for something with a similar rise. Rise is measured from the crotch to the button at the waist.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:34 PM on November 13, 2013

You need to go to more traditional men's shops - less Banana Republic, more Brooks Brothers. J Press carries very traditional American sack-cut suits and does stock high-rise, flat front trousers. For heavy weight wool, look for flannel.
posted by backseatpilot at 2:02 PM on November 13, 2013

Best answer: "Flat front, high rise" is a traditional cut associated with the collegiate/Ivy League/east coast style. Vintage mens' trousers from the 1950s through the 1970s will generally have a cut like this. Pleats went out of style in the 50s and didn't really make an appearance again until the 1980s, and low rises came even later--this is, as some people have already noted, a somewhat anachronistic cut, though there are still people who wear it and aren't in their 80s and 90s. Current retailers who still produce new examples are Brooks Brothers (though most of their cuts are more contemporary, and you'll have much better luck with vintage Brooks Brothers in my opinion--these cuts survive mostly as a custom option for suit orders rather than off the rack items), J Press, or O'Connell's. Jos. A Banks isn't particularly invested in this cut today but produced a lot of it in the past, if you're looking for vintage. It's strangely popular in Japan, where it's called "Dad's Style".

If you like heavier weight wool, this style of trousers is easy to find in gray flannel (and, sometimes, insane tartans). Suits with pants in this style will generally be a sack cut--without darts in the front of the chest, giving a slightly boxy silhouette (though Brooks Brothers produced some hybrids with higher-rise, flat front trousers and darted, slim jackets under the unfortunately named Brooksgate line, which was targeted at younger men in the 70s and 80s), a "natural" shoulder with minimal padding, and what's called a 2/3 or 3-roll-2 button stance, which means that there are three buttons but you only ever fasten the one in the middle. In fact, the top buttonhole is usually applied "backwards", with the finished surface on the inside of the suit, because it is perpetually unfastened and therefore visible at the bottom of the lapel. In fact, the orientation of the buttonhole is a useful diagnostic for this style of suit, if you're concerned that you might have a standard three button suit with a functional top button instead.

If you aren't put off by buying used, the guys over on the "trad" fourm at Ask Andy About Clothes maintain a fairly active "thrift store swap" thread with unusually reasonable prices. Watch it for a few weeks and and either a suit or trousers which meet this description will probably pop up. There's also a sales forum on the Film Noir Buff website, but it's a little more expensive and tends to have a lot of non-US buyers and sellers. Etsy sellers Newton Street Vintage and Typhoid Jones sell this style of clothing.
posted by pullayup at 2:17 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is great! I have been meaning to ask the low-end version this question for a while now.

Old Town has several styles of high-rise trousers. Their stuff may be less formal/more old-fashioned than what you're looking for, though. (Along those lines, see also Gentleman's Emporium - a lot of their trousers are cotton, but they do have some wool ones.)

If you're skinny and looking to make a statement, you can sometimes score British army surplus heavyweight worsted wool trews from the various highland regiments on Ebay.
posted by usonian at 2:23 PM on November 13, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you all the advice - following up in no particular order:

Yes, I think I will at least go get a quote from a tailor I've used before (wedding tuxedo, man oh man that fits beautifully). I love the quality, but will check a lot of these (Brooks Brothers, etc) out before pulling the trigger on having it made for me. (I also don't mind used, but detest the browsing/wandering part of shopping and agree that I probably have a pretty specific set of requirements... though tangentially - for people in-shape with longer torsos trying to wear low rise slacks... how does one keep a shirt tucked in? I've used shirt-stays, but they destroy the fabric pretty quickly and still the seams on the left and right side often rise above my pantline when standing-sit-stand-again...)

I'll look around over the next few weeks, but my knee-jerk thought is that there really aren't many in my office I can ask - the nearest-to-my-age male in our company is just under 30 years older than I am, and for the meetings/customers/companies with whom I wear suits, that's about average (the niche of the shipping industry we're in means that we're usually more formally dressed than our customers, who're in Texas-formal-- jeans and a dress shirt, so suit/tie all around usually means government/regulator/foreign-delegation meetings, which is a long way to say I'm definitely looking to err to the more conservative side (even if it weren't my preferred style... reflecting, I'm not going for flashy so much as comfortable/fitted)).

I'll check out the options here and appreciate all y'alls assistance!
posted by Seeba at 4:34 PM on November 13, 2013

It's not near you, but I can unequivocally recommend Epaulet in New York. The quality is fantastic. If their trouser fit works for you, they have a wonderful (and seasonally rotating) selection of fabrics. Beautiful stuff.
posted by minervous at 8:16 PM on November 13, 2013

My husband prefers high-rise flat front trousers, and these days Land's End is his go-to spot for new wool trousers and khakis. Otherwise thrift stores are the way to go.
posted by feidr2 at 10:23 PM on November 13, 2013

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